I’m tentatively travel planning again – are you?
Over the weekend I booked a flight to Iceland. If I’d written that this time last year it wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow. After all, I’ve been twice before – once to get married – and so a return trip would be nothing to shout about. But of course, this year is different.
I might not go.
I’ve only once in my life booked a flight thinking that there was a very real possibility I wouldn’t use it. It was for a day trip to Germany, and dependent on my husband’s work schedule. It cost less than £20, so when he had to fly off to the US at short notice, I wrote off the trip. This time, whether I get to go or not is most likely going to be out of my control. Right now, the stats for COVID cases in Iceland are looking very promising – a relatively small number of cases and very few deaths. But that’s not the problem.
Cases in East Anglia have now subsided to a low level and my local area is slowly getting back on its feet. I’d hesitate to use the word normal, but most shops are open, cafes are offering takeaway cream teas and the big coffee chains are open for business. I can see my friends, albeit at a distance. But yesterday’s announcement about Leicester having to reintroduce lockdown measures after a spike in cases is a reminder that nothing should be taken for granted. As people become more mobile again and have more reasons to go out within and beyond their local area, it will be interesting to see what happens to the number of cases in the UK. I’ve been out of my own county just once since March – to buy a sofa of all things – and have no immediate plans to do so again.
The British government is imminently expected to announce a series of air bridges. It imposed a 14 day quarantine period on those entering the UK and travellers arriving from these air bridge countries will be exempt from this. There’s talk of a traffic light system: green for safe countries, amber for caution and red for, well, danger. Many of the countries are thought to be the popular European summer destinations – Spain, France, Italy and so on. If this goes ahead, we should soon see if this has brought the dreaded second wave or if flying and travelling can be considered an acceptable risk once again. I had nothing booked for summer, so haven’t had to think about how I feel about an existing trip. Have you?
I’m anticipating the FCO advice will broadly follow the traffic light pattern and even though Iceland has not been mentioned when it comes to talk of air bridges, it could well be in the green category. Currently Brits can visit Iceland so long as they take a test on arrival and it’s negative (if not it’s a 14 day quarantine). If that policy holds out, then best case scenario is that my holiday will go ahead as planned; worst case scenario is that I test positive and spend two weeks in quarantine at the Icelandic government’s expense, forfeiting everything I’ve booked. Right now, I’d need to quarantine for 14 days on my return, but as I work from home anyway, that’s not a deal breaker.
Last week I renewed my annual travel policy – surprisingly with no increase in premium – and am covered for medical treatment including that for coronavirus, so long as the government hasn’t advised against travel to the country in which I show symptoms. That FCO advice is crucial. I’m not sure I’d want to take the risk of travelling without insurance, particularly for somewhere that has a high cost of living like Iceland. However, I have done so for brief periods during my trip to the Caucasus, for instance when I spent a couple of days in Abkhazia. It’s really a case of wait and see at the moment.
In any case, regardless of FCO travel advice, I won’t be covered if I need to cancel because of coronavirus. In practice, that means that the amount I’ve just spent on flights (less than £100) won’t be recoverable if I can’t go, though I’m hopeful I’d get a refund or voucher. Anything else, for now at least, will be reserved on a free cancellation basis and reviewed at regular intervals between now and my September departure date. In the meantime, I’m planning an itinerary that I hope to follow this year – so far it includes the Diamond Circle, Arctic Henge, elf school (yes, it is a thing!) and the sheep roundup known as rettir – but may have to postpone until 2021. Watch this space.
So interesting to read your blog, what you’re doing, your travel plans, the depth of your research. Reminds me of the good old days when I was booking trips all the time, here, there and everywhere. I’m limited now by age and physical challenges, but have wonderful memories — and am traveling vicariously via your writings! Thank you, and keep it up! Richard
July 1, 2020 at 3:14 pm
Thank you Richard and glad you also enjoyed the Discoverer article. Lovely to receive comments and emails like yours.
July 1, 2020 at 3:26 pm
Hopefully you will be able to get to Iceland as it looks like it will be one of the ‘Safe’ countries that we can travel to. Surprised that your health insurance premiums were the same as would have expected a big rise there. Never visited Iceland but always really fancied it, perhaps next year. Feels like the situation in England is improving doesn’t it?
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July 2, 2020 at 8:31 am
It does seem to be getting a little better, Jonno, and hopefully that will continue. I was amazed at the insurance policy, even asked them to double check it! Iceland is incredible and I can’t wait to get back. Hope you get there one day too 😀
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July 2, 2020 at 2:31 pm
Unlike previous years, no travel plans at present. Had planned another two-month cross-country U.S. road trip again for this fall but that’s off — at a still-healthy 85, I’m staying home, being safe. I’m now traveling, virtually, “with Julia”! Best, Richard
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July 2, 2020 at 1:18 pm
Hi Richard, we’re also fans of US road trips; hopefully will get the chance to do another in 2021. I shall ask you for your tips 😀
July 2, 2020 at 2:26 pm